Showing posts from May, 2011

Random Friday Reviews

I'm feeling a bit random, so get a load. Umpire - Supply chins (Hidden Shoal, from the album Now we're active ) Beautiful, chiming guitar pop with layered, soaring vocals from the Perth band's upcoming new album. Comes on like The Shins with more gumption. "Widescreen" (always a description that gets my attention), it says here, and I concur. In addition, there is brass involved and the lyric rhymes "oasis" with "stasis". Top notch. Supply Chins by Umpire And here's the video to the first single from the album, Green light district : Neville Skelly - Poet & the dreamer (Setanta/PIAS) Sumptuous country swing (think Nesmith / Campbell) with a handsome croon at the centre. Title track from the Liverpool artist's upcoming new album. Here's another track from the album, the swooningly beautiful He looks a lot like me . Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat - The copper top (Chemikal Underground, from the album Everything&

Playlist 177 - May 24 2011

The Underground of Happiness uplifting pop music of every creed Playlist 177 Tues May 24th 2011 11.00am-12.00pm (repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm) Cork Campus Radio, 98.3FM listen live on the web at *listen back to this show at Playlist The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Heart in your heartbreak ( playing Button Factory, Dublin, June 1 ) The Scaramanga Six - Spent force Neville Skelly - Poet & the dreamer King Creosote & Jon Hopkins - Bubble Letter from Belgium - Travis and Hunter A Lazarus Soul - Save our greenbelt Grinderman - Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man ( playing Primavera Festival, Barcelona, May 26-28 ) Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Nobody's baby now Smith Westerns - All die young Roshi feat. Pars Radio - To bio Tied & Tickled Trio with Billy Hart - Calaca Seun Kuti &a

Efterklang - An Island (further update)

A quick update on one of my musical events of the year so far, the Efterklang film made by Vincent Moon , An Island . If this is news to you, it's been mentioned on these pages already, here and here - and here's some other background - In August 2010, French filmmaker Vincent Moon and Efterklang’s 8 piece-live band met up on an island off the Danish coast. The objective was to shoot a film. A film with the same length as an album, and a film full of performances, experiments and collaborations. Over an intense period of 4 days Efterklang collaborated with more than 200 local musicians, kids and parents, creating new performances and interpretations of songs from their album Magic Chairs (4AD, Rumraket 2010). It was all filmed by Vincent Moon who same time conducted several filmic and musical experiments with Efterklang as his dedicated playmates. An Island is an unconventional music performance film and an abstract documentary about a band and an island. The running time

Tune-Yards in conversation

More class action from Merrill Garbus , first explaining the title of the current album, whokill on 4AD , then getting together with partner in crime Nate Brenner to perform a stunning live version of You yes you from the album. Playing Whelan's, Dublin, June 17 Presents: tUnE-yArDs "You Yes You" from Yours Truly on Vimeo .

The Scaramanga Six + Tim Smith

The new album from The Scaramanga Six , Cursed on Wrath Records , happily arrived during the week. It includes the wonderful single Autopsy of the mind , which has been spoken about here before, and is still available as a free download. The Scaramanga Six - Autopsy of the mind (Wrath Records, single) Top drawer power pop from the Ben Folds school by this Leeds 4-piece. A reflective piano intro gives way to a thudding backbeat, culminating in an acerbic chorus adorned by soaring backing vocals (they also make room to pay "fake brass" homage to Chicago's If you leave me now in the mid-section, a stand-out moment). Catchy as hell and they're giving it away for free. Autopsy Of The Mind by The Scaramanga Six The album has a number of memorable tunes and I'll come back to it in more detail once I've listened through to it for a bit longer. But the last song, Spent force , jumped straight out at me, primarily because it reminds me of prog-pop classic Eye i

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Heart in your heartbreak

Whatever the weather is doing in Éire (which is probably what Queen Elizabeth called Ireland as a child), you know it's summer when tunes like the new Pains single are unleashed. As predicted here last month. (The video has a kind of High Fidelity meets School of Rock vibe - suggests it should have starred Jack Black...). The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Heart in your heartbreak (Fortuna Pop/PIAS, from the album Belong ) Perfect slice of sunshine, shoegaze pop (sungaze anyone?), from the New Yorkers' second album. The soundtrack of your summer, if you're lucky.

The Last Sound - Only the lonely know the glow is failing (Osaka, single)

Spooky little goth-electro (maybe post-wave?) number from Dublin artist. Featuring a killer Top 40 chorus with banks of shoegazey male and female vocals, undercutting the isolation of the lyric. Another fascinating release on this excellent label. Single launch at The Joinery Gallery, Dublin, May 21, with Thread Pulls and Legion of Two The Last Sound - Only the Lonely know the Glow is Failing by osakaRecords The Last Sound: Only the Lonely Know the Glow is Failing from Osaka Records on Vimeo .

Playlist 176 - May 17 2011

The Underground of Happiness uplifting pop music of every creed Playlist 176 Tues May 17th 2011 11.00am-12.00pm (repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm) Cork Campus Radio, 98.3FM listen live on the web at *listen back to this show at Playlist High Llamas - Fly, baby fly ( playing Southbank Center, London, May 22 ) The Horror The Horror - Believe in magic The Knife, Mt Sims & Planningtorock - Colouring of pigeons (from the soundtrack to the opera Tomorrow, in a year , playing at Cork Opera House, June 24+25) The Last Sound - Only the lonely know the glow is failing ( playing The Joinery Gallery, Dublin, May 21, w/ Thread Pulls & Legion of Two ) Liz Janes - I don't believe ( playing The Slaughtered Lamb, London, May 22, w/ Julianna Barwick ) Washed Out - Eyes be closed Toro y Moi - New beat ( play

Triskel Arts Centre, Plugd Records + Ellis Island Sound

I paid my first visit to the recently re-opened Triskel Arts Centre over the weekend. They've incorporated several changes as part of the renovations, including restoring the 18th century Christchurch next door and turning it into a performance venue under the auspices of Triskel. You'd have to see the place to do it proper justice but the next best thing is to take a look at the picture gallery here . It's a stunning development, worthy of any major European city. Only last night, they hosted Hauschka playing a live soundtrack to Dreyer's silent classic Vampyr - I couldn't make it but you can read a review here - which is pretty damn impressive in anyone's book. There's a raft of other exciting events in the coming months, check em out. Another of the new elements in Triskel is the re-located Plugd Records , a perfect fit with the underground spirit of Triskel's history really (they're also running the Gulpd Café downstairs, purveyors of damn f

Warpaint + Brian Wilson on Jools Holland

My musical tv highlight of last weekend? No, not the Eurovision (Jedward's somersaults were impressive), but Warpaint on Later with Jools Holland . I must say I wasn't fully convinced by their debut album on this side of the world, The fool , which came out last year. It certainly had some great moments, of which Elephants was one of the best. I haven't seen the band live though and they look like they could be a different proposition in the flesh. The rhythm section look like they really mean it, for one thing. By the way, Brian Wilson was on the same show. I love the man but I just don't think he should sing in public any more. I find myself slightly on edge watching him, as if he might fall off the stool any minute. Other than that, he and band (same one as played in Cork some years ago, made up of most of The Wondermints I believe) played a stirring version of Good Vibrations . However, the highlight was a shot of Warpaint dancing along to it, oblivious to the c

Crystal Stilts and Primavera

As you'll be aware, the Primavera Sound Festival is taking place in Barcelona in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately for me I won't make it this year but I started thinking about previous trips to the East coast of Spain in May. One memorable one was 2009. I had a few interviews lined up in advance, including with Crystal Stilts . This was a band I had first heard of through the Stereogum blog around the end of 2008. Their song Crippled croon got completely under my skin, sounding like a jangly garage rock throwback in thrall to Phil Spector. I had arranged to meet the tour manager after the band played their (great) set on the Pitchfork stage. So far so spiffing. Things never being that simple, we somehow missed each other. After a bit of hanging around, I repaired to the Food Court with my companions, resigned to missing out on the interview. As we sat with our Yo La Tengo and Michael Nyman sandwiches, who did I spot across a crowded room but the band's keyboard player.

Josh T. Pearson Interview

The interview with Texan gentleman Josh T. Pearson is available to download in full now ( 37 mins approx .) here: featuring talk of... ... church music, discovering rock 'n roll, U2's Sunday Bloody Sunday, alternate guitar tunings, the World Beard Championships, reading his own reviews, the emotional effort of recording Last of the country gentlemen and more... The interview was recorded a couple of Sundays ago in a quiet corner of the Crane Lane Theatre in Cork , shortly after Josh's gig in the same venue (though not before Josh had shared conversations with most of the audience - he is a man generous with his time and an absorbing conversationalist). He ordered coffee (cream and sugar) and orange juice. I abstained. The gig was compelling and also very enjoyable. Compelling because the songs from his current album shine an uncomfortable and very personal spotlight on himself. It bordered on some kind of psychodrama at times, one side of a confrontational dialog

Playlist 175 - May 10 2011

The Underground of Happiness uplifting pop music of every creed Playlist 175 Tues May 10th 2011 11.00am-12.00pm (repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm) Cork Campus Radio, 98.3FM listen live on the web at *listen back to this show at Playlist Gang Gang Dance - Glass jar ( playing Primavera Sound Festival, Barcelona, May 26-28 ) The Doomed Bird of Providence - Fedicia Exine Secret Cities - The park ( playing Hoxton Bar & Kitchen, London, May 14 ) Julianna Barwick - The magic place ( playing Unitarian Church, Dublin, May 20 ) Josh T. Pearson Interview Interview Excerpt Part I Josh T. Pearson - Drive her out Interview Excerpt Part II Josh T. Pearson - Woman, when I've raised hell ( playing Barbican Theatre, London, Nov 26, w/ guests tba ) *d'load full interview here

Metronomy - The English Riviera (Because)

Metronomy - The English Riviera (Because) A less immediate album than their previous, the wonderful Nights out , but rewards repeated listening, as they say. So, the out-of-phase vocal and saxophone stabs of Everything goes my way creep up on you gradually; the gameshow organ of single The look takes on a different colour bedded under scratchy percussion, high-tone bass and a yacht rock synth. The terrific Trouble comes on like an 80's Northern soul throwback (I'm thinking Orange Juice) with a half beat, chorused electric guitars and falsetto male harmonies. The bay is closest in tone to Nights out , with a slap bass and serious dancefloor chops among the massed harmonies. But then again the great synth build of Some written , from an unassuming samba shuffle, also shows an unlikely future in dance music for the kazoo. Pop music with an endearing sense of adventure and hooks to burn. Free download of She wants - Playing Oxegen Festival, Punchesto

Antonymes - A licence to interpret dreams (Hidden Shoal)

Antonymes - A licence to interpret dreams (Hidden Shoal) A deceptively simple set of neo-classical instrumentals (there is spoken word on one track), featuring piano, atmospherics and heart-swelling orchestral arrangements, from north Wales' Ian Hazeldine. There's a stillness and glacial beauty about these tunes which inevitably bring existential matters to mind. The maritime pull of The siren, hopelessly lost , for example. Or The Gospel Pass , with a religious bearing brought on by a solemn church organ. The single Endlessly somehow draws a rumbling chord from a series of ineffable tones. An unexpected muted trumpet fanfare opens The door towards the dream , followed by a female soprano signalling the stars. The Reichian piano structure of A light from the heavens is gradually submerged under yearning cellos. Honestly, the fact that one man/the world can produce an album this gorgeous gives hope for the future of the human race. *I must say also that ambient opener A frag

Crystal Stilts - In love with oblivion (Fortuna Pop)

Crystal Stilts - In love with oblivion (Fortuna Pop) As I've said before, this is a special band. Among the many delights on this record, you will find: the great oscillating bassline of Sycamore tree ; the Byrdsian shimmer of Silver sun ; the swirling Animals-esque organ of Shake the shackles (which somehow also sounds, thrillingly, like early Go-Betweens); the stomping reverb guitar hook of Precarious stair , eventually submerged under an authentic garage rock beat; the fantastic tambourine and organ rush of Half a moon ; the VU-ish John Cale piano+Lou Reed guitar thrash of Prometheus at large ; the couldn't-give-a-fuck vocals of Brad Hargett while all around him musical fireworks go off. And finally, the mention of Bo Diddley in an interview from 2009 (below) reminds me that the wonderful Blood barons is a runaway train BD beat. This is a brilliant album. Free d'load of Through the floor Through the floor -

Josh T. Pearson - Last of the country gentlemen (Mute)

Josh T. Pearson - Last of the country gentlemen (Mute) A man struggling with the end of a relationship. One side of a dialogue between two lovers. A dramatic storyline of religious intensity and naked honesty. This album is all of these things, and some more. Including a compelling answer to the challenge of three chords and the truth. And a deconstruction of country music, using tempo changes and squalls of overlapping, fingerpicked guitar patterns. Also Thou art loosed comes on like an out-of-phase Roy Orbison, who after all was the king of break-up records. Sad songs, in this case, say so much. You need to hear this. *Interview with JTP coming soon Playing Barbican Theatre, London, November 26 (with guests tba)

Damon & Naomi - False beats and true hearts (Broken Horse)

Damon & Naomi - False beats and true hearts (Broken Horse) The former bandmates of Dean Wareham in Galaxie 500 are still making a handsome contribution to the canon of dream pop. You only need to hear the plangent beauty of How do I say goodbye , or the English folk revival feel (albeit with a VU-ish electric guitar drone lurking in the shadows) of the gorgeous Shadow boxing . My own fave is What she brings , with its aching slide, creamy psych guitar and vibrating bells. Rich textures are supplied by understated mellotrons and flutes. All in all, a dizzy drift of pleasure through your subconscious. Which is something I recommend. Damon & Naomi with Chris Marker - And You Are There from The Wire Magazine on Vimeo .

Left with Pictures - In time (Organ Grinder Records)

Left with Pictures - In time (Organ Grinder Records) If you're into chamber pop (and I am) you'll want to be checking out this English band's second album. It's a concept-ish album, with 12 songs, each one relating to a different month of the year. So, it opens with Constantly , a bittersweet meditation on the passing of time, driven along by a rolling piano figure and some great banjo playing. The Ides of March sounds strangely like Morrissey (only, if he'd been into The Zombies instead of the New York Dolls). August's Go Simon, Go! brilliantly finds common ground between a barbershop quartet and Thin Lizzy's Dancing in the Moonlight . And the at-odds-textures of bowed saw and jaunty brass on closing song Forgive me perfectly evoke the mixed feelings of an English December. Joining folk and classical music, via English music hall, this album just goes to show how broad a church pop music can be, if you go looking in the right places. And don't you j

Julia Kent - Green and grey (Tin Angel Records)

Julia Kent - Green and grey (Tin Angel Records) This second album by the Canadian (she used to be part of the Antony and the Jonsons touring band) might sound a bit off-putting on paper - solo cello, layered, with field recordings. Don't be put off, it's one of the most beautiful instrumental collections you'll hear in a while. For example, the cinematic poise of Pleiades . Or the gorgeous thrum of Acquario 's opening bars with background lapping water, followed by the romantic sweep of several entwined cello parts. The majestic Overlook makes me think of tragic French films. Simply, it's beautiful, beautiful music. Highly recommended. Interview from 2009: Playing Primavera Sound Festival, Barcelona, May 26-28

William D. Drake - Rising of the lights (Onomatopoeia Records)

Some more beauties now plucked from the fog of the recent monthly round-up. William D. Drake - Rising of the lights (Onomatopoeia Records) Here's what I know about William D. Drake. He used to be in English band Cardiacs. He's obviously interested in English folk and medieval music - I have a hunch he enjoys silent film soundtracks too. His music is playful and quite surreal, but not at the expense of passion and energy. The instrumental track Ziegler starts like a Buster Keaton chase sequence (with twirling clarinet) before becoming very like the theme tune to (the fondly remembered Irish children's tv programme) Wanderly Wagon . He's a fantastic piano player, who sounds like he'd be right at home with jazz, classical, traditional or any other genre you'd like to throw at him. The song Ornamental hermit concerns the (presumably discontinued, although you never know) practice of wealthy English families keeping a hermit on their grounds. The title of the al

Apr 2011 Music Picks

So we've had our summer here in Ireland, in the shape of an Easter heatwave. Normal service has been resumed now in the shape of rain (sometimes wholehearted downpours, sometimes a cheeky drizzle, just for variety). More great music to listen to (indoors) this month, with chamber pop particularly to the fore. But you'll also find orchestral, psychedelic, garage-rock and IDM flourishes, among others, below. What's a pop music tag between friends anyway. All albums, unless otherwise noted. The Doomed Bird of Providence - Will ever pray (Front & Follow) It's quite unusual to find an album that is the result of, in effect, a research project. What a bonus when the music has a mysterious and compelling quality (although we partly guessed as much based on the band's fine eponymous EP of last year). The research in question, by singer Mark Kluzek, focuses on early Australian history and reveals harrowing tales of death and delinquency in the inhospitable tropics an

The Doomed Bird of Providence - Will ever pray (Front & Follow)

It's quite unusual to find an album that is the result of, in effect, a research project. What a bonus when the music has a mysterious and compelling quality (although we partly guessed as much based on the band's fine eponymous EP of last year). The research in question, by singer Mark Kluzek , focuses on early Australian history and reveals harrowing tales of death and delinquency in the inhospitable tropics and on the high seas. The tales of various miscreants and misfortunates are recounted against a suitable backdrop of folk laments and dirges (violin and accordion are prominent throughout). In fact, the strength of the stories suggests a theatrical setting. Fedicia Exine deserves special mention, a song about "the little-known daughter of a convict" deported to Van Diemen's Land for murder. It contains a heartstopping moment a few minutes in when the drones drop out momentarily to be replaced by a light, airy folk tune on guitar, only for the narrator to re

Dutch Uncles - Cadenza (Memphis Industries)

According to Wikipedia, a Dutch uncle is "a term for a person who issues frank, harsh, and severe comments and criticism to educate, encourage, or admonish someone." From the same source, Dutch Uncles are "an indie band from Manchester...known for their use of atypical time signatures in a pop context." Nothing there to indicate that, for example, Fragrant is one of the songs of the year (or any year), with its genius massed vocal anti-anthem " Hands, hands, hands you hold me up ". Nothing either to prepare you for the beauty of close-to-a cappella Dolli , sounding like something that might have come out of a Beach Boys side project. Dressage takes a music box melody (literally, a field recording) and makes it the basis of a circling guitar pattern. OCDUC has something of Efterklang's experimental spirit about it. Floating over it all is Duncan Wallis' fragile, lilting voice. Unashamed art pop with memorable tunes, magnificently realised.

Playlist 174 - May 3 2011

The Underground of Happiness uplifting pop music of every creed Playlist 174 Tues May 3rd 2011 11.00am-12.00pm (repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm) Cork Campus Radio, 98.3FM listen live on the web at *listen back to this show at Playlist Josh T. Pearson - Thou art loosed ( playing Barbican Theatre, London, Nov 26, w/ guests tba ) Owensie - Dark place ( playing An Réalt Dearg, Cork, May 5, w/ Peter Delaney ) The Leisure Society - This phantom life (radio edit) ( playing Band on the Wall, Manchester, May 9, w/ Sarabeth Tucek ) World's End Girlfriend - Les enfants du Paradis Julia Kent - Acquario ( playing Primavera Sound Festival, Barcelona, May 26-28 ) Amiina - What are we waiting for Crystal Stilts - Precarious stair ( playing XOYO, London, June 20 ) *d'load i'view from May 2009 here: http://

The Horror The Horror

Don't you just love Swedish bands? On their third album but a new name to me, The Horror The Horror (or THTH as I'm already calling them) seem to distil the spirit of the 1980's. The blurb mentions Style Council and Prefab Sprout, but the absolutely knockout Believe in magic comes across more like Van Halen to me, without the Eddie van Halen guitar solo. Which means a better version, in my book. It's on repeat at my house and is nestling up close to Ariel Pink's Round and round for company. Get into it. The Horror The Horror - Believe in Magic by Tapete Records Equally ace is Wilderness , their new single (and title track of their album, on German label Tapete Records ). It has an irresistible "ooh-ooh-ooh" chorus, among other great things. The video features a man dressed as a dancing chicken but is oddly romantic.